Our team at Bennett Guthrie PLLC has extensive experience in estate law, and we have helped countless people write their last wills and testaments. In our experience, while most people are familiar with the term “last will and testament,” not everyone has a clear understanding of what this document actually does. In this article, we will do our best to shed light on the matter so you can get a better understanding of this document and its role in the estate planning process.
To put it simply, a last will and testament has two purposes: to communicate what you want your survivors to do with your assets and to outline your wishes in regard to your responsibilities.
The part of a last will and testament most people are familiar with is the part that describes how the deceased wants their assets to be distributed. Assets include things like the money in your bank account, your physical possessions, your home and other real estate properties, and other financial products such as stocks or even businesses that you own.
When you make your will, you will get to decide who to name as your heirs, and then decide who gets what. You aren’t limited to leaving assets to your blood relatives, either—you can also name friends as your heirs or leave money to charity.
In your last will and testament, you can also provide instructions on how to carry out any responsibilities that you will leave behind when you die. For example, you can name guardians for your children and create funds for their education, care, and inheritance. Similarly, you can provide instructions for the care of an elderly parent or dependent adult. In addition, you can instruct your heirs on how to manage financial interests.